RTP Weekly Highlight Header

February 16, 2012 Volume 3, Issue 6
Please share the Recovery to Practice (RTP) Weekly Highlights with your
colleagues, clients, friends, and family!

To access RTP's Weekly Highlights, quarterly e-newsletters, Webinar recordings,
and PowerPoint presentations,
please visit http://www.dsgonline.com/rtp/resources.html.
Save the date for the next RTP Webinar, "Understanding and Building on Culture and Spirituality
in Recovery-Oriented Practice," on April 4, 2012. Additional information will follow.

A New Vision for Mental Health
by LeRoy Spaniol, Ph.D.
Severe mental illness can affect any family. Family members can be at risk whether they are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, any ethnicity or culture, or functioning well as a family. Also, there is no evidence that families can cause severe mental illnesses. Currently, there is no way to reliably predict who will develop an illness.

The onset of a severe mental illness triggers a major crisis in families—not unlike the crisis experienced by family members of those with other major disabilities. They experience shock, disbelief, frustration, anger, and helplessness. Few families are prepared to deal with such a traumatic crisis, especially one that often continues for many years.

For most of the past century, people with severe mental illnesses were thought to have a disability that worsened over time. There was no hope for recovery, i.e., building or rebuilding a satisfying, fulfilling, and meaningful life in the community. People were often hospitalized for long periods of time and provided with only maintenance medication and maintenance activities.

Many times, families were considered to be the cause of the severe mental illness, especially mothers. And of course, family members were discouraged from participating in treatment because they were thought to be the source of the problem. Sometimes, they were inappropriately provided therapy to eradicate presumed causes of severe mental illness within the family.

However, widespread research in the past 40 years has shown that most people with severe mental illnesses do recover, and recovery is more common than it is rare. Recovery can be expected.

The implications of this new view of severe mental illness and families have resulted in major shifts in mental health legislation, policy, and practice. We are in the midst of a paradigm shift at this very moment. Still, mental health professionals and the general public are at different levels of understanding and implementing the new paradigm. The current transition has left some people confused and frustrated. Fortunately, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations (NCMHCSO) have been strong advocates for educating professionals and the public, endorsing necessary State and Federal funding and moving this paradigm forward.

Since we know people can recover, we need to provide them with more than hospitalization, maintenance medication, and maintenance activities. People need hope and the knowledge, skills, and support required to have a satisfying and meaningful life. Everyone wants to be fulfilled and contribute to society as members of communities of their choice. People in recovery want what all people want—work, housing, relationships, intimacy, wellness, enjoyable activities, and financial stability. It is important to expect these people can achieve such valued roles when they have the appropriate information, skills, and support from providers, family members, and peers. We should assume people in recovery can be active participants in their self-determined recovery journeys. Research also shows when families are actively involved in the recovery journey, their family members fare better.

Because families do not cause mental illnesses, we need to examine how they have been and can continue to be a significant resource in a family memberís recovery.

The National Institute for Mental Health, State departments and divisions of mental health, NAMI, and NCMHCSO have adopted the new vision of recovery and are gradually understanding and implementing its principles in services and self-help programs. But we are still in the midst of this change. We must keep the vision alive and active in our community. The good news is people can recover and families do not cause mental illnesses. We must spread this knowledge and work in a collaborative recovery alliance with the mental health system, people in recovery, and community to ensure the new vision is fulfilled.

Dr. Spaniol is a semi-retired psychiatric rehabilitation consultant. He is also a consulting editor for the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal. Contact him at lspaniol405@comcast.net.

NEW! RTP Resource
Treatment Relationships in Service Engagement
A central priority of the Center on Adherence and Self-Determination is to build understanding about how professional and peer services improve the recovery process for consumers. Whether services are peer led or facilitated by a practitioner, long-term participation may enhance a person's quality of life and ability to function in society. On the other hand, discontinuing services too soon can lead to relapse, hospitalization, and increased risk of suicide.

"The Role of Treatment Relationships in Service Engagement" highlights the bond between peers, practitioners, and consumers, and some of the most commonly discussed issues, including medication, skills training groups, vocational services, and self-help approaches.

Read the article.

Reentry Programs Address Mental Illness
According to criminal justice experts, many correctional institutes struggle with mentally ill inmates. Most prisons do not have the wherewithal to effectively manage such a challenging population.

"The Supreme Court has established that you have a constitutional right to a basic level of adequate health care, which now includes mental health care," said University of Virginia Law Professor Thomas Hafemeister in an interview with msnbc.com. "They've recognized that there tends to be limited resources in this setting. As long as a qualified professional has examined the inmate and exercised his or her judgment as to what needs to be done, that's all that is required."

The article spotlights Montgomery County, Maryland, where model programs have successfully screened, identified, and diverted people with mental illness from criminal activity. Montgomery County also assists inmates with psychiatric programs and community reentry to reduce recidivism.

To read the article, click here.

Recovery on Film
"This Is Psychology" is a video series that highlights fascinating psychological research. Videos are produced by the American Psychological Association and hosted by Chief Executive Officer Norman Anderson. In a recent episode, Dr. Anderson discussed scientific evidence that many people with serious mental illness can fully heal and return to their jobs, homes, schools, and families.

Watch the video.

The RTP Resource Center Wants to Hear From
Recovery-Oriented Practitioners!
We invite practitioners to submit personal stories that describe how they became involved in
recovery-oriented work and how it has changed the way they practice.
The RTP Resource Center Wants to Hear From You, Too!
We invite you to submit personal stories that describe recovery experiences. To submit stories or
other recovery resources, please contact Cheryl Tutt, MSW, at 877.584.8535,
or email recoverytopractice@dsgonline.com.

We welcome your views, comments, suggestions, and inquiries.
For more information on this topic or any other recovery topic,
please contact the RTP Resource Center at
877.584.8535, or email recoverytopractice@dsgonline.com.

The views, opinions, and content of this Weekly Highlight are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect
the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.